Should a Company Create a Separate Customer Service Twitter Handle?

Customer Service Twitter Handle

Social media completely changed the way people do business nowadays. Instead of having little communication between divisions, they now have to work together and quickly address any issue to a specialized department. Another significant change is the close integration with social media and customer service. Why has it become so important?

Forbes discusses this in-depth in ‘The Ignored Side of Social Media: Customer Service’:

“Now that social media sites are an integral part of business culture, using them for customer service is moving from cutting-edge concept to business necessity.”

If you look at the way companies speak to brands, most customers address their questions to a company’s social media platforms. Social media is the place to be ‘social’ and talk to friends and family. Those interactions often include complaints related to customers service. Any company should make sure their social media platforms sync really well with customer service approach.

Twitter is most customers’ preferred go-to social platform. Consumers are more in control of the timeliness of the situation and Twitter allows them ‘to be heard’ easily as sharing it on a social channel gives some degree of gratification. Companies often create separate Twitter handles (e.g. @MicrosoftHelps), only for the purpose of leveraging their customer service. But, is this actually the way customers want to be approached?

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Why do people reach out to a company on their main account for customer service?

No matter what kind of questions customers are dealing with, they seek to personally engage with a company. People don’t necessarily interact with businesses on social the way companies think they do. In most cases, customers don’t want to reach out to a dedicated Twitter handle and instead prefer a company’s main account. With people directing their questions or complaints to your Wall or main Twitter handle, it’s often unnecessary to create more specialized accounts for multiple departments.

People don’t necessarily interact with businesses on social the way companies think they do.

In which cases should companies create a separate Twitter handle?

1. If your customer service team deals with a large volume of incoming questions

A company’s main Twitter handle should be all about positive engagement. If you’re a large company or you’re in an industry that specifically requires immediate response (e.g. public transport companies or big food chains), host the dialogue with unhappy customers on another line. The creation of a separate Twitter handle for customer service provides followers with meaningful content and tips from a valid source.

2. If more than one Twitter handle broadens your reach

Customer service via Twitter is a means to build a larger audience. If a social customer service team proactively engages with people on their customer service account, chances are customers will start to follow that account during the interaction. People mainly aren’t aware of your main account. A separate Twitter handle brings about new marketing challenges and extends your reach.

3. If your Twitter account needs regular service updates

Airline companies set the example here as they send out service updates on the spot via Twitter to keep flying customers up-to-date on flight information. A separate Twitter handle makes sure that information goes to the right people. Customers only interested in the brand will tune out easily. Instead of giving status updates via a website, technology companies can also create a separate Twitter handle and direct all questions to that account.

In short, if your company has two handles, a large amount of customers will still reach out to you on your main account (especially if it’s your brand name). Don’t just redirect them or ignore their questions! Make sure you handle them properly and create positive customer sentiment. A single handle might sound hassle-free, however, separate handles do make sense (like in the cases above).

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  • Rebecca

    Hi Sofie, I think many companies miss the point of a Twitter customer service account – it’s to help the customer solve whatever problem they’re having. And as most customer service issues require the exchange of personal information, Twitter conversations will need to continue off-line. It tends to be a faster way to get a reps attention, but not necessarily to solve the problem. Also, in your above article I think there is a difference on this point in a “customer support” account that can offer tips and a “customer service” account that can solve customer complaints. Twitter accounts only seem to divert calls from reps, but then you need reps on Twitter to field the Tweets – which eventually have to call anyway. So, unless your plan is to have a Twitter account for all the complaints and have your main Twitter account as marketing – I don’t see the point.

  • Sofie De Beule @Engagor

    Hi Rebecca, thank you for commenting! I appreciate your feedback as you clearly look at this issue from another perspective. It’s indeed confusing. That’s why I mostly pointed out why every company should look at this topic individually. The way a certain company implements customer service on Twitter depends on numerous elements like industry, audience, volume of messages, etc. There’s absolutely no secret formula and a lot of companies indeed miss the point of customer service on Twitter!